The Hope Debt Advice Service

This article is from the March 2013 issue of Holy Trinity Church Parish News

The Hope Debt Advice Service is a Christian-based voluntary organization supported financially by various churches and, currently, by a major contribution from Wessex Water. The organization traces its origin to a Faithworks Conference held in March 2006 in St Margaret's Hall.

Quite ordinary people can fall into debt for all sorts of reasons and can have little idea of how to go about digging themselves out. Before the Financial Crisis (the Credit Crunch) it was often seen as being due to irresponsible use of credit cards, but now, increasingly, it is due to a reduction in income.

The situation is expected to get worse as changes to the Welfare Benefit system begin to bite. Sometimes debts are so large that the repayment terms leave little or no money for the essentials of living.

The Hope Debt Advice Service offers hope, with a service that is unconditional, confidential, free, available to all and provided by volunteers who have received training. The clue to what they do is in the name; mostly what is given is advice on what to do and how to do it. However, HDAS volunteers are also prepared to negotiate with creditors to agree a budget, reduce/stop interest and charges, and arrange and agree payments that are affordable.

Different levels of service are available:

  • A listening ear
  • Help with preparing a financial statement and working out a Budget
  • Help with giving priorities to different debts
  • Help in checking benefit entitlement
  • Negotiating with creditors
  • Arranging debt relief orders
  • If bankruptcy is the best way forward, then practical advice can be given on how best to proceed

Access to the service is by leaving a message on the Freephone number, 0800 840 2298. An advisor will then ring back to arrange an appointment. Advisors see people at The United Church, St Margaret's Street, in Bradford on Avon, generally between the hours of 6 and 8pm on Tuesdays and between 9.30am and 1pm on Wednesdays. It is also possible to 'drop in' to the church during these times.

Simon Arnold